I'll try to post pictures and more trip details later, but I just wanted to first write about my overall experience and feelings after finishing.
I was still quite nervous about the hike and worried that the hiking and training I had done for it would not be enough. But once we started, I just kept walking. It was hard, the hardest physical thing I've ever done. But it wasn't impossible and I wasn't the slowest person, and everybody had some part that was hard for them, even marathon runners like my sister. It was worth every single sore muscle.
The views were amazing! I honestly would turn around and do it again in a heartbeat just to be back up in those mountains. Our guides, Edwin and Elbin, were excellent and the group of people we hiked with were so great. We all got along so well and really had a good time. And then there are the porters. Those guys are my heros. They have a hard job, from my perspective at least. They get up early to get breakfast ready, then stay up late getting dinner cleaned up, and they pack all the equipment and some personal belongings for us. And they run up and down those mountains! I must confess it was nice to see them resting on the side of the trail once in a while so I knew they were human.
Really, the trip was kind of life changing. I made myself do something I wouldn't have thought was possible a year ago. I have a broader perspective of how other people live, and I have a greater appreciation for God's creations. I have to be honest that this trip was hard to come home from. I was ready to be home, but not ready to stop the experience. There was just a sense of loss of new friends and places that I didn't expect. Now that I'm home and getting back into my routine, I am profoundly grateful. I'm grateful for the whole experience and I'm grateful for the good life I do have and the many opportunities I have to grow and challenge myself and be happy.